Monday, April 26, 2010

VIVA LA REVOLUTION! Paradigm makes a splash onto the scene of the cigar world.

I’ve been reading a lot of literature on cigars these days and it seems to me that there is a lot going on in the industry. Many folks have told me that it’s a bad time to get into the industry with all the smoking bans and taxes being implemented. While all this may be true, lately I tend to err on the side of positivity.

For me, there are exciting things going on in the world of cigars. Very soon I suspect it will be possible to purchase Cuban puros legally. If, or, when the borders open, it will allow very successful and prominent tobacco families/companies to get re-acquainted with the lush Cuban soil and product. Can you imagine the blends that will hit the market? The event will truly be an evolution.

However, until then all we can do is wait, be patient and as our friends at Revolution 262 have coined, “Smoke the Revolution!”

The selected cigar that is being reviewed for this post is of direct result of this blog and the wonder that is the cigar industry. Revolution 262 (known hence forth as 262) was started by 3 stogie enthusiasts in 2009. Yeah, you heard that right, 2009! When I first started smoking and began to flip through the pages of every cigar magazine I could get my hands on, I noticed a lot of the same thing when it came to advertising. “A 100 year tradition”, “A family affair,” and of course, “Making the world’s most premium cigars for over a century,” were just some key phrases I read on nearly every ad.

Tradition is a wonderful thing. And let’s face it; it’s the backbone of society and culture.

However, every once and a while it is good to have, say… a revolution?

Yes, revolutions have driven cultures for centuries and have been the cause and, ultimately, the foundation for some of the world’s greatest things. Government, religion, art, and industry have had several revolutions throughout history that have kept with the pulse of the human race.

Wow! That’s some big talk to introduce a company that just got its roots settled. Well, not to pass the buck, but they started it. Their own website is The motto of the company came from the team’s desire to fight the regulations that are impeding on the personal freedoms of individuals. They even have their own “manifesto,” that is published on their site. These guys are serious, and that takes us to the matter at hand: The Paradigm.

I was actually given my first Paradigm by a recent acquaintance named Ryan. Ryan is a lot like me, works in a cigar shop, enjoys a good smoke, is married, and he’s male. Hey, I said he was an acquaintance, not my soul mate. Ryan and I got to talking about cigars and about my blog. He told me that he had recently joined team 262 (e-mail him at and was their new rep in Texas. And it is with his generosity that I was able to enjoy this smoke and review it for you all.

The Paradigm is 262’s first release and was pushed onto the scene in January of this past year. This cigar combines an unprecedented blend of cubito tobacco, as well as tobacco hailing from four different countries: Columbia, Honduras, Brazil, and Nicaragua. Ryan selected the box pressed toro (6x54) to have me sample.

The Brazilian wrapper was a deep, dark maduro in color with an oily sheen that almost glistened. The stogie sported a foot band, with an emblazed “Smoke the Revolution” logo. The unlit aroma was dominated by earth, oak and some subtle sweet clove. The cold draw was consistent with the pre-light smell, and I was excited to light it up.

The cap came off clean and the cigar took the cool lighting well as it burned nicely. The smoke’s bouquet never overwhelmed, but was amazing from the beginning. A dominance of earth was complemented by nuts, oak, cocoa, and clove.

The first few puffs were consistent, with toasted nuts and clove coming through more prominently with every inch. The draw never did come through for me and I did spend the entire smoke fighting it. However, as disappointing as the draw was, the burn could not have been more perfectly even.

The ash held impressively as it finally fell after almost two inches. The amazing medium body flavor morphed into a complex center and finish of full flavored bliss. Not one to let the draw get me down, I enjoyed every bit of this cigar’s flavor and aroma. The center’s complexity even gave way to a sweet subtle berry that married well with some spice and the continued clove.

The finish was a triumph for me. With all that flavor and fragrance, the finish was short, but the lingering aroma had even my wife and dog impressed.

262 did not hit a grand slam, but a solo shot seems appropriate here. The construction was masterful, the burn was perfect and if I compliment the aroma one more time, I feel I may just overhype it. Great job 262! I can’t wait for the revolution to spread.

My Ratings:

Appearance - 10
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 9
Draw - 5
Burn - 10
Aroma - 10
Flavor - 9
Balance - 9
Finish- 10

Total Rating: 9.0

Remember guys and gals, there is nothing wrong with knowing you’re the best! Smoke and toast to the revolution!



p.s. In Texas, you can only find 262 Paradigm cigars at Bon Ton Roule ( or Pop's Safari Cigars and Fine Wines ( both located in Ft. Worth.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Re-defining SNOB

I have been approached a few times about the name of this blog. The name has received praise and criticism from several arenas. I believe my position on the name is well supported in my very first post, but a recent moment gave me pause to reconsider.

Just for a moment though.

Recently, I have taken a part-time job as a side gig at my local cigar club. I have had the best time so far and am continuing to learn so much. I must give a public thank you to Perry Tong and his wife, Pat, for giving me the opportunity to spend just a little more time around one of my greatest passions.

One of the things that I love about this club and cigars in general, is that it brings together a most eclectic group of individuals. In just one night last week, I saw two police officers, one janitor, a dozen realtors, three musicians, one politician, and a group of paint salesmen all light up a stogie in the same place.

I was able to talk and recommend cigars to all types and loved every minute of it! Well, at least that was the case until Chuck walked in (names have been changed to protect the guilty). As soon as I shook Chuck’s hand I knew this was going to be painful. He said he had never been inside a cigar shop before and he asked for a recommendation and I immediately went to some of my faves. I asked what he liked (Full flavored? Mild? Size? etc). He told me, “I want a CEEEGARRRRR.” Really? Here I thought he came in to smoke chili peppers. I asked what he meant, and he indicated something with a lot of strength and flavor. Easy. I immediately drifted to the La Flor Dominicana Air Bender and had him take a gander.

If you are a faithful reader, you remember some of the items on my list of what not to do in the world of smoking cigars. Well, this guy takes the stick and takes a big ol’ whiff of the cellophane wrapper. “Not much to it,” he proclaims. “Yep, today’s plastic just doesn’t have the oomph that it did five years ago.”

Just like I suspect most witty remarks do, this one sailed right over Chuck’s head.

I opened the cellophane up so that he could actually smell the cigar itself. He was still not impressed.

“Do you have anything better?” he asked. “Bear, do you understand what I’m asking? I want a CEEEEGGGARRRR! Something strong, that will kick me in the teeth and let me know I am smoking a CEEEGGGARRRR!”

Wow, this guy was annoying and once more, I am fairly certain he was on medication. In order to protect the innocent, I will not be using the names of anymore cigar labels for the rest of this story. I lead Chuck over to a VERY powerful cigar, excellent flavor and sustaining strength from pre-light to nub. I warned him that the first quarter of this particular stick could be a real doozie, but I advised him to hang in there and he’d thank me later. He nodded and took a whiff of it (this time outside of the cellophane) and declares, “I’ll take it!”

Ok, mission accomplished. Or so I thought.

I added the cigar to his tab, and he saw me write down a price: $7.59. “That’s it?” he commented more than asked. “Well, ok, I guess I can’t complain too much about the price.” He walked away. A few minutes later, about three-four puffs into the cigar, he comes back asking about our ports. I went over the port selection, at least the ones we sold by the glass. I was starting to like Chuck a little more. After all, I tend to like most people and we were talking about port, the perfect accompaniment to a good stogie, so very little could be better. After sampling a glass I poured him, he took a glass and returned to his seat.

A little while later he returns again, stogie in hand and smoked about a quarter way down, and sighs right before a lecture ensues.

“Bear, I don’t want you to be offended, but this cigar is terrible. I mean, it’s really strong and I just don’t know if I can finish it. I even dipped it in my port (another faux paux that I just love) and nothing is helping. In fact, now it’s burning hotter and has a hot sugar taste to it. When I said I wanted a cigar, I wanted something that was going to be worth my time. Maybe you just don’t understand what I was asking for.”

I apologized and said he was right. What I had understood was that he wanted a strong and flavorful cigar. I warned him about the first quarter. I even told him the reason the cigar got worse after dipping it was because he had done just that- dipped it in a sweet, dessert wine. I offered to see if maybe we could get him something else for free, but I needed to talk to my manager.

He grabbed my arm, “Bear, Bear, Bear, no, no, no.” I told him I insisted and I turned to look for the manager. When I looked back, Chuck had disappeared into the walk-in humidor.

He emerged a few minutes later with a cigar that to be honest, for the price, I am not at all impressed with. The price on this particular cigar was $28.50. He went to my co-worker and asked to put it on the ticket.

I didn’t see Chuck for about an hour after that. He comes back to cash out his tab with the cigar about three-quarters finished. “Now Bear, this is what I was looking for; this is a CEEEGGGARRR.” I told him I was glad he found something that he liked.

I know all my readers have heard me say that taste is subjective, and it is. And when I was just about to write this particular case as such, he opened his mouth and hit me with, “I mean come on Bear, you gave me a seven buck cigar. What were you thinking? That was supposed to impress me? I ask for a cigar and you hand me an overpriced Black & Mild? Clearly, you have a lot to learn my friend, about judging one’s tastes and cigars themselves.”

I have waited until this point in the story to tell you that Chuck is at least a couple of years younger than I. For those who don’t know, I am 26. I wrote up the ticket and I suppose to show that there were no hard feelings, he threw a couple of bigger bills into the tip jar which, to this point, was his most redeeming quality. I was tempted to hand his tip back to him. However, since I do split the tips, I didn’t want my co-worker to miss out.

What’s the point of telling you about Chuck? Well, the moral of this story is that while taste may be subjective, price has nothing to do with quality of a cigar and nor should it. I have smoked good and cheap alongside poor and pricey. What makes me a SNOB is that I am only satisfied by the best. What makes Chuck a TOOL is that he needs to feel that his wallet weighs a little lighter and his ego is stroked a bit more in order to feel superior.

Like I have always said Guys and Gals, there is nothing wrong with KNOWING you are the best.



Friday, April 2, 2010

A Tale of Love

Wow, it certainly has been a good long while since I have picked up the keyboard and written down some of my thoughts. As some of you are aware, I got married recently. The ride has been awesome and finding my beautiful wife has been the most notable blessing of my life thus far. She puts up with me, laughs at my jokes, supports me in all my endeavors, loves me to no end, and best of all, appreciates my love for a good cigar.

So, here’s to my wife, the blessed angel that has decided to spend forever with me. I love you.

In the spirit of love, there is a story I have been itching to tell that displays and shows the powerful force of one cigar. For one cigar has most recently changed the life of my friend, Gary.

I haven’t known Gary for very long. In fact, he probably doesn’t even consider me a friend. He doesn’t have anything against me necessarily, but our bond is not deep.

I met Gary back in October 2009, yes, just six short months ago. We were attending a wedding of two of our mutual friends. In fact, both he and I were serving as members of the wedding party. The wedding was on Saturday and the bachelor party was Thursday night. We shared some conversation, got to know each other and then “it” happened. We all went back to the groom’s home, went outside to start a fire and light up some stogies.

I have to interrupt at this point and say what amazing smokes they were. Genuine Bolivar Havanas! This a smoke that every man should sample during his lifetime. The smoke was beautiful, flavorful and bountiful. The draw had the perfect pull. The flavor was unique, but not overwhelming. This was man’s heaven on earth, not to mention we had some homemade “chalk beer” to help cleanse the palate.

Anyway, back to “it.” Well, “it” happened. Gary, bless his heart, was unable to light his cigar.

“Are you kidding me Bear? What’s so “it” about that?”

Well, jackass, I was getting to that.

At the time, he was the butt of some teasing, but we really didn’t think much of it. Fast forward to the next evening when we were all at the wedding rehearsal and dinner. The time has come to introduce the next player in our little story- Tash.

Tash is short for Natasha and it is neither here nor there, but there it is anyway. I, as others too, have made the observation that while Natasha’s name is unique, exotic and beautiful, Gary’s name is serious, direct, and concise. It is of my expressed opinion that Gary should change his name to Tristan, Romeo, or Donatello. Nothing over-the-top, but something with zing and flair.

Tash was a bridesmaid and I would say grabbed our leading man’s attention rather quickly. I shouldn’t take all the credit at assessing this. A blind man from Detroit was also in attendance and he was the one who first noticed.

The evening progressed with exceptional enjoyment. The rehearsal went flawlessly, the hors d’vers were delicious, and the company was perfect.

Only one thing was missing: A perfect cigar to cap off the evening. After the crowd had died down a bit, the gentleman and some of the ladies proceeded outside to indulge in some prized puros that I had brought. All the men, including Gary, accepted my gift and we all lit up. Well most of us…

For all his trying and all his might, Gary could not get a fire going at the end of his stick (insert that’s what she said joke here). We proceeded to tease and goad him as guys tend to do. Even some of the women joined in, including Tash.

After what seemed like an hour, probably closer to ten minutes, Gary was still sweating out an attempt to light his cigar when all of a sudden…

Let me just interrupt again to say that while some people have blamed me for giving Gary a poorly constructed cigar, I harbor no ill will towards those individuals. I gave Gary a wonderful smoke. And if anything, he should be thanking me…

I digress.

Gary was taking in so much air trying to light his cigar he could have deflated a hot-air balloon. Just when all hope was lost and everything seemed hopeless, a fair maiden came to the rescue.


Tash grabbed the cigar and lighter out of Gary’s mouth and hands and perfectly lit the cigar with little hesitation. The crowd roared in applause. All made sense again.

Tash smiled. Gary puffed. We laughed.

Thus, a beginning was born. They are getting married this summer.

So, here’s to the happy couple. A Blue Label Robusto may have had nothing to do it with it. After all, you can’t stop fate. However, I am pompous enough to think that it’s all on me.

All joking aside: Congratulations Tash and Gary! I wish you  two all the happiness in the world.